Cannabis businesses still coming out of the shadows
Though Truckee has allowed commercial cannabis delivery for a year now with no cap on the number of permits issued, there’s only one operating delivery service fully permitted by the town and the state.
While the town has seemingly strict regulations, working with town staff to obtain a use permit was a relatively smooth process, according to Todd Winter, owner of Winter Greens Delivery.
“This is a brand new industry,” said Winter. “It’s always going to seem harsh at the very beginning.”
Winter has also worked as an attorney representing clients in the cannabis industry for the past 10 years.
“In dealing with municipalities all over the state, the Town of Truckee was amazingly receptive in the process,” he said. “The business license process was shorter than anywhere else we’ve delt with for a client.”
In order to operate legally, businesses must obtain a use permit from both their local municipality and the state. As a veteran of the industry, Winter said licensing his delivery business may have been a smoother process because he was familiar with the regulations.
“I do permits and licenses and everything related to cannabis businesses all over the state of California with my team,” said Winter. “It’s much easier for me than other delivery businesses in town that were faced with challenges that I didn’t have because I have this expertise.”
Truckee’s regulations allow businesses to only deliver to a private physical addresses. However each delivery service must have a fixed location to run operations, at which direct sales cannot take place. The businesses cannot exceed 3,000 square feet or have a retail storefront. They must maintain at least 600 feet of distance from schools, daycares and youth centers and will be limited to areas zoned for manufacturing, downtown manufacturing, service commercial and general commercial. Businesses in the general commercial zone may not be located on the ground floor.
Starting a legal cannabis business takes more money and resources than most other businesses, Winter said.
“It’s expensive. You have to find property. You have to talk to landlords that will see eye-to-eye with you and be OK with cannabis in their space.”
In December the Truckee Planning Commission granted Tahoe Herbal Care a use permit, a delivery service attempting to operate out of a second-story suite in Donner Lake Village. The planning commission’s decision was appealed, however, and the owners later withdrew their application due to regulations within the home owners association, according to Jenna Gatto, Truckee planning manager.
“A lot of landowners don’t want cannabis in their space,” said Winter.
As cannabis is still federally illegal, businesses face another hurdle with federal regulations banning them from using bank services.
“It makes it very difficult for cannabis companies to handle simple things like payroll or paying bills,” said Winter. “Fortunately a lot of the industry still works on a cash basis.”
Ultimately Winter said there are no drawbacks to being a legalized cannabis business “because we’re finally coming out of the shadows now.”
Hannah Jones is a reporter for the Sierra Sun. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 503-550-2652.